It must be said right at the outset that the Supreme Court which is the highest court in India has in a landmark decision titled The State of Meghalaya & Anr etc v Phikirbha Khariah & Ors etc which was delivered on April 6, 2018 very rightly suggested the Centre to videograph all selection proceedings by the Public Service Commission and State Selection Boards. The Supreme Court felt compelled to order this landmark decision as it felt extremely concerned over the serious irregularities reported time and again in selection to public posts. It would certainly not be an exaggeration if it is said that this should have been the norm right from the beginning and not after the top court felt compelled to order this!
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that in an order passed recently, the Apex Court has even asked the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to explore the possibility of installing CCTV’s at the venues where examination and interview takes place to ensure that in the event any illegality surfaces, the CCTV footage could be verified by an independent committee of experts. It makes eminent sense to implement what the Supreme Court has so very rightly ordered. This will certainly go a long way in ensuring more transparency which is the need of the hour also and so should not be opposed by any sensible person.
For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, let me also inform them that the landmark decision of the Apex Court has come amid reports of the question papers of the common Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination been leaked in which lakhs of students took part. The Centre has handed over the probe into the alleged scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). One hopes that the CBI gets to the bottom of the matter and makes sure that those involved in it are sent behind bars as early as possible!
To put things in perspective, the case before the Supreme Court resulted from two separate cases arising from Karnataka and Meghalaya in the appointment to public posts. The Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) filled up 362 posts of Group A and Group D officers for which examinations were held in 2012 and interviews conducted in 2013. Later on an enquiry by the Crime Investigation Department, it surfaced that several candidates had bribed persons in the selection committee.
Going forward, the investigation concluded that all members who interviewed the candidates awarded exactly the same 4 marks to particular candidates. There was no objective assessment by individual members and 566 candidates were awarded same marks which appeared to be pre-determined. Digital video recorder in the KPSC building was replaced to destroy evidence.
Truth be told, the other case which to court pertained to irregularities in appointment of assistant teachers in Meghalaya’s Government lower primary schools. It must be revealed here that the Karnataka case with which the Apex Court dealt was titled Avinash C v The State of Karnataka, C.A. NO. 3543-3555 of 2018 which was decided on 4-4-2018. It was held by the Apex Court in this Avinash case that, “All orders of appointment issued pursuant to Final Order Select List dated 21.03.2014 prepared by KPSC are declared illegal and shall stand quashed.”
Now reverting back to the main case, it must be revealed here that the Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justice Adarsh K Goel and Justice Rohington F Nariman minced absolutely no words in concluding categorically and convincingly that, “Such incidents are being reported in several cases. We are of the view that for the purity of selection to the public posts, it is desirable that as far as possible, the selection process conducted by the selection bodies, especially the State Public Service Commissions and State Selection Boards is videographed.” There is a lot of merit in what the Apex Court has said so clearly. What is the harm in getting it videographed when there is just nothing to hide for anyone? Also, why should the selection process not be more transparent?
It is noteworthy that the Bench directed this landmark order to be forwarded to the DoPT for compliance as it even urged the Centre to consider having CCTV cameras installed at the places where the examination and interview takes place. Centre must seriously debate and deliberate on this worthy idea forwarded by the Apex Court and then decide on it at the earliest so that more transparency is ushered in the system process of selecting candidates for different jobs for which the concerned candidates apply! Centre should not just brazenly disregard it as the Supreme Court is the top court which is held in highest esteem all over the country!
It cannot be lost on us that the Judges believed that this will help gather evidence by way of footage to be seen by an independent committee in ruling out possibility of any wrongdoing in the selection process. The report of the committee may then be placed on the website concerned. It was explicitly held by the top court that, “It is desirable that at examination centres as well as interview centres CCTV cameras are installed to the extent viable. Footage thereof may be seen by an independent committee of three members and report of such committee may be placed on the website concerned.”
On a concluding note, there can be no denying or disputing that this must be done at the earliest as the Supreme Court has so rightly desired. No further time should be wasted in doing it. This will promote transparency, accountability and maintain purity in the selection process as has been observed by none other than the top court itself in this landmark case!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.